ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday April 13, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 46
Financial Times  

Tutor-on-call scheme by Sri Lankan entrepreneur

By Lanelle Hills

Amid growing inadequacies of the present educational system, one Sri Lankan teacher’s entrepreneurial spirit has stretched the boundaries of institutionalised learning with an ‘out of the classroom and into your living room’ concept.

Thirty six-year old Nishan Fernando operates the island’s only teacher channelling service which promises to locate a home-visiting -tutor for any subject at any academic level from nursery to university.

“We guarantee to locate a teacher who will visit your home within a minimum time frame of one hour or 24 hours and a maximum of one week,” said Fernando who has been a mathematics teacher for over 10 years in prominent Colombo and International schools.

The inspiration he says came when students of his would request help in locating tutors for other subjects they needed coaching in. “Even then I had a network of teachers that I knew and I use to find teachers,” Fernando recalls. “I always wanted to start an institute of my own and this idea of locating teachers helped me do just that.”

Launched in 2003 using a bank loan and the money earned from his tuition, ‘Top Educational Institute’ offers the teacher channeling service along with in-house English computer, and mathematics classes for the London and local streams that are taught in the modest facilities of his institute at No. 18, New Galle Road in Moratuwa which he started with one computer and a secretary.

Having scaled down his classes to three times a week owing to developing his institute, Fernando says once he is contacted for a tutor he plays the role of coordinator to contact teachers and put them in touch with the student.

The teacher channeling service has a database of over 1,500 teachers. Each of the teachers is qualified with either a degree, diploma or Phd level qualifications and some even work at leading schools in Colombo or lecture at university. This network of teachers stretches over 18 districts and Fernando says even if a tutor is required in Trincomalee he is capable of getting someone across.

In order to begin the process of ‘channeling’ a teacher, students pay an initial registration fee of Rs. 1000.

“Depending on the subject, experience and qualifications of the tutor and also the distance the tutor has to travel the fee is decided. It is negotiable and could be agreed on with the student,” Fernando said.

He added that the registration fee is a one time payment in some cases since students who want extra coaching for exams that are close by discontinue the classes afterwards. For those who want classes throughout the year and there after have to re-register for the New Year. Students are not the only ones to contact the service, “even schools contact me when they are short of teachers,” Fernando said.

Fernando’s institute conducts German, French, Japanese, Italian and Korean language courses which began in an unusual manner. “There were lots of people who were going abroad and needed to learn the basics of these languages in a short period of time. So we began 12-day language courses which taught the four basic aspects of language,” he said.

Fernando says though the profits are small he still puts it back into the institute in the form of a new computer. He hopes to set up a website in the future so that students could just select tutors online and to also expand with more branches around the island.

The range of teachers in the channelling database is not limited to school curriculum and accommodates even those who have a few spare hours and would like to dabble in a little learning in the fields of dress making, dancing, art, beauty culture, music and sports. All are home visited, “but of course there are instances where the teacher would like the student to join his/her class as in the case of dancing or art.”

As for sports the database has coaches for cricket and athletics only, but eager learners could contact Fernando to locate a home visiting teacher for subjects that are not on his list.

“The system is very flexible and we do our best to accommodate everyone,” he said.


Top to the page  |  E-mail  |  views[1]

Reproduction of articles permitted when used without any alterations to contents and a link to the source page.
© Copyright 2008 | Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka. All Rights Reserved.